Today I start my NFL Preview. For the next eight days I will be previewing each division (one a day). After I have previewed each division I will pick my MVP’s, Superbowl champion and all that good jazz. I will be going in alphabetical order and today I will be begin with the AFC East.
Have the Dolphins finally found their first franchise QB since Dan Marino in Ryan Tannehill? I am not completely sold on him but the Dolphins aren’t wasting anytime to find out if he is the answer since he will be the week one starter. One of my main concerns for this team is the talent around Tannehill. Who is going to be their go to guy? I like Davone Bess but he is better suited to be a slot guy. They also brought in Legedu Naanee and drafted B.J. Cunningham out of Michigan St. who both possess some good size so maybe one of them can become Tannehill’s security blanket. I love what Reggie Bush did last year. He proved he can handle a bigger workload and if Bush can do that again this year it will take a lot of pressure off Tannehill.
On defense I like the addition of cornerback Richard Marshall who is a pretty underrated player and with the recent trade of Vontae Davis they will need someone to step up in the secondary. The Dolphins are also going back to a 4-3 and I like some of the players they have to plug in. Former first round pick Jared Odrick made a nice jump last year registering six sacks so I look for his progression to continue. They also have two legit pass rushers in Koa Misi and Cameron Wake so the defense will have to keep this team in a lot of games.
Win meter- 4-6. Still not enough overall weapons on offense.
Biggest question- Will Joe Philbin be able to turn this offense into a juggernaut like he helped do in Green Bay?
New York Jets
I don’t see this offense being able to do a whole hell of a lot this season. I don’t see Mark Sanchez ever being an elite quarterback and with the way Tim Tebow has looked in the preseason, this team is going to rely heavily on it’s defense and special teams where Joe McKnight is one of the top kick return specialists in the league. This is an offense that ranked in the bottom third of the NFL, (21st in passing, 22nd in rushing). I think the best option for this offense is to pound the ball with Shonn Greene. I have always been pretty high on Greene and think he can be a top ten back in this league with enough touches but I am not sure if the Jets will stick with the ground and pound attack.
The defense boasts one of the best cornerback duos in the entire league with shutdown corner, Darrelle Revis and the athletic baby making machine, Antonio Cromartie. I like the addition of safety Laron Landry to be an intimidating force deep. They got great value with North Carolina standout Quentin Coples and have a strong group of linebackers. This defense will be relied on too much though this season.
Win meter- 7-9
Biggest question- Is this a make or break season for Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez?
I am hopping on the bandwagon! While I think the Patriots are still too good of a team to leapfrog in the division I do think the Bills will have a great shot to make the playoffs. I love what this team did over the offseason. Signing Stevie Johnson to a long term deal was a great sign that this Bills team will reward players who have produced on the field. Another one of those players, Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to live up to his contract extension. Before his last season, Fitzpatrick had 12 touchdowns to only six picks in his first six games, then went on to throw 12 touchdowns and 17 picks in his last ten after signing the extension. Injuries had some effect on his play but Fitzpatrick needs to take care of the ball this year. The running game featuring Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller is another reason to be excited about this team. Jackson was one of the best all around weapons to come out of the backfield before injuries ended his season. Spiller filled in well and should provide a home run hitter out of the backfield.
I love what this team did on defense. They went out and got their best defensive player since Bruce Smith by signing former Texans defensive end/outside linebacker Mario Williams. Williams will return to the 4-3 where he will play with his hand on the ground where he is best. Mark Anderson is one of the more underrated signings of the summer and should be able to put up big numbers playing across Williams. Drafting Stephon Gilmore to pair with Aaron Williams will give the Bills a very young, but talented cornerback duo and with the resurgence of linebacker Nick Barnett this should be a very good defense.
Win meter- 7-10. Team needs to stay healthy.
Biggest Question- Can Ryan Fitzpatrick play at a high level the whole season?
Yes the Pats again reign supreme over this division but I will go ahead right now and say they will not go undefeated, (only if ESPN would stop bringing that up). In the last five seasons the Pats have two Super Bowl losses, missed the playoffs in 08, a wild card bounce in 09 and divisional round loss in 2010. I feel better, just tired of hearing about them running the table.
Here is why I like the Patriots bringing home the AFC East title this year. One big reason is this offense just got even better. The addition of Brandon Lloyd will spread defenses even thinner with Lloyd’s ability to go deep. Plus his circus like catches leave corners wondering how they could have played defense any better. Wes Welker recently said he will play through the one year franchise tag and let his play do the talking, so there won’t be any problems there. Oh yeah this team also has the best tight end duo in the league with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez who are both signed through 2019 and 2018 each. The question here is who takes over for the law firm and gives the Pats enough of a threat to run?
The Patriots had the same problem that my Packers did last year, awful defense. They couldn’t get off the field even with some talented guys on defense. Bill Belichick knew how much his defense let him down last year so he decided to go with an all defensive draft that has the potential to produce a couple studs. Chandler Jones has the potential to be one of the best pass rushing threats in the NFL when he becomes a football player and not just an incredible athlete. Dont’a Hightower comes out of Alabama, a school that favors fundamentals and form tackling. I look for both of these guys to improve a defense which ranked31st last year.
Win meter- 11-14.
Biggest Question- Can they get over the hurdle for another Superbowl win?